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I Thought…

When she was in my womb, my first-born girl, all I did was dream about her and our life together. I would dress her in the cutest clothes, she would have the most beautiful name, she and I would be best friends someday just like my Mom and me. When she was born, I couldn’t believe how lucky we were to have been blessed with this angel.

When I dreamed these dreams, I thought that, 18 years later, we would be…

Going on college visits

Talking about boys and men and dating (and I would impart all of my wonderous knowledge)

Shopping for senior picture clothes and choosing the best photographer to capture her beauty and kind heart

Getting her ready for soccer, cross country, swimming, musicals, band…whatever her passions were going to be

Arguing with Dad over too-skimpy bathing suits and too-short shorts and boys that weren’t good enough for her (and rolling my eyes and giggling over how protective he was over his little girl)

Planning where to shop for homecoming and prom dresses

Buying her first car and watching her drive away so incredibly happy

Looking at pictures trying to decide the best hairstyle for that gorgeous main of dark-brown hair

Going to Ulta to buy makeup and hair products and nail polish we definitely didn’t need but most definitely wanted

Listening to whatever music was her favorite in the car while sprinkling in some of mom’s oldies but goodies

Talking about the importance of a few wonderful friends over a whole bunch of people who don’t understand you thoroughly

I thought we would be doing all of these typical, wonderful, mother-daughter things. I could picture it clearly. I could taste it. I could smell it. I couldn’t wait for it.

I thought I would be able to help her be self-assured, confident, body-positive and strong. She would love herself for exactly who she was, not for what she thought others wanted her to be.

I thought wrong.

That might sound sad, and at times I’m desperate with grief over what I thought we would have. But most of the time? I’m so glad I thought wrong.

Instead of college visits, we’re talking about jobs she might like to try. So far, the only job she wants is “to be a mom like you” which breaks my heart and fills me with joy at the same time. (Or a job where she can wear pajamas and play with her iPad all day and eat mac-and-cheese.)

Instead of talking about boys and dating, we are deciding just how many times it’s acceptable to go see Incredibles 2 at the theater. And planning our next movie date to see Hotel Transylvania 3 and Wreck-It Ralph 2.

Instead of shopping for clothes and makeup, we go shopping for Disney stuffed animals and Troll dolls to play with in the bathtub and the pool. You can’t imagine how happy she is for $14. (Although don’t you worry. The Grandmas and Mom still buy her cute clothes; she could just care less unless it’s pajamas.)

Instead of sports or musicals, we’re anxiously awaiting the start of adaptive ice skating and choir concerts. We’re simply proud and joyful that she has found two things that she loves.

Dad still thinks shorts are too short and tops are cut too low. I guess that never changes.

She wishes she could drive and that continues to break our hearts. Instead of watching her drive away in her first car, we talk about how she can drive the cool old-fashioned cars the next time we go to Cedar Point and let her go for rides with her brother.

She has the most beautiful dark-brown pixie-cut hair I’ve ever seen.

We listen to Backyardigans and the Trolls soundtrack, but she also loves P!nk and Taylor Swift and Michael Jackson.

She does have best friends. Me, Matt, Gabe, Matthew, her Grandmas and about 1,000 stuffed animal friends. I always say it’s better to have 4 quarters than 100 pennies when it comes to friends. Guess what? That’s what she has.

She is happy every day. She is confident. She is self-assured. She doesn’t give a damn about what others think of her. She is kind. She is smart. She is funny. She is full of pure joy. She is everything and more than what I dreamed she would be.

I thought I wanted the Olivia in my dreams, but I thought wrong.

I wanted the Olivia in my reality.

Thank God I was wrong.

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Summer Books to Read

Holy moly it’s been a long time since I’ve posted about books! I apologize for this very long list of books that I’ve read since the last time I posted. I tried to be brief but concise in my descriptions. I hope you find something here you may like and come back and tell me about it. Happy Summer reading!!

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

I just love Kristin Hannah’s books. This one did not disappoint. Ernt, a man suffering from PTSD from Vietnam, decides it would be best for their family to move to Alaska. The wife and daughter, Cora and Leni, are not so sure this is a good idea. Once they arrive and settle, and winter settles in, Ernt begins to lose it. Leni and Cora suffer at his hand. They have to try their best to survive. I don’t want to say much else so I don’t give anything away. At its heart, it’s a love story between mother and daughter. It was gut wrenching at times. You will love and absolutely hate Ernt. I couldn’t put it down!

 

Don’t Let Go by Harlan Coben

I also love Harlan Coben’s books. This one didn’t disappoint either! Myron Bolitar, Coben’s beloved main character, makes a cameo appearance but the main character is Nap. He is a detective whose twin brother died mysteriously when they were teenagers. Soon after, his true love ran away without explanation. He may finally find the answers he’s been looking for. It was a riveting read!

The Snowman by Jo Nesbo

 Spoiler alert: THE MOVIE SUCKS. The book is awesome. A serial killer is on the loose and his signature is making a snowman with his victim’s head. I love a good and gruesome murder mystery. I definitely couldn’t figure out the ending either which I really enjoy. Read this one!

Only Daughter by Anna Snoekstra

This was so, so good. A girl goes missing. Eleven years later she returns—but it’s not really her. Can she make her family believe she’s their daughter? Should she? Very twisty and I definitely didn’t figure it out. Must read!

Keep Quiet by Lisa Scottoline

 This was a quick, fluff read. A split-second decision by a father to protect his son leads to stress and pain. I enjoyed it but not one of my favorites. This would be a great beach read!!

 I Hate Everyone, Except You by Clinton Kelly

 I loved What Not To Wear but this book was terrible. Blech. I skimmed most of it!

Good Me Bad Me by Ali Land

 Milly’s mother is a serial killer…of children. Millie grew up in this environment and, even though her mother is on trial, can’t escape her mother’s influence. She struggles to try and find normalcy with her foster family while keeping a dark secret. Very good read!

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

 Hopefully you already know about this one! I love the show and decided to go back and read the book. To me, it’s frightening because I can totally see this happening with how our country is going at the moment. Basically, all women’s rights are taken from them and their main purpose in life is to be a handmaid and procreate. Very disturbing but very excellent book. (The TV show is excellent as well.)

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

One of my students was reading this and really enjoyed it so I decided to give it a try. I really liked it! A high school student dies after drinking from a cup that had peanut residue on it. It appears to be an accident until they realize that the peanut residue was intentionally placed on the cup because the murderer knew he was allergic. The four main suspects are the students in the room for detention that day — which one did it? Not the best book I’ve ever read, but definitely worthwhile.

Saving Noah by Lucinda Berr

This was not one of my favorites but I wanted to see what happened so I finished it. The ending is shocking and upsetting. I can’t say I recommend it; it’s a difficult book to read. A family is torn apart by the realization that their teenage son has been molesting young girls during swim lessons. That is about all I can tell you. I’m not sure if you should read it or not, to be honest. It was interesting enough to keep reading but, as I said, very upsetting.

Tips for Living by Renee Shafranski

Nora’s wealthy husband of many years has gotten a younger, prettier woman pregnant. Oops. She moves to a new town, gets a job at a newspaper and settles in. Bam — ex-husband and new pregnant wife move in to her town and buy a mansion. Next thing you know? Ex-hubby and new wifey are murdered…and Nora can’t remember where she was on the night they were killed. SOOOO good!!

It Ends With Her by Brianna Labuskes

OOOHHHH this was a great one! A female detective, Clarke Sinclair (If you’re having a baby girl, please name her Clarke!!), has been tracking a serial killer for years. He gives her clues, she tries to get to him in time, she fails, he kills another girl. Will she finally catch him??

Everything You Want Me To Be by Mindy Mejia

Ok, I’ll admit it took me a minute to remember this one. I think that’s a bad sign!! Hattie is a small-town “good girl” who has everything and is set to take on NYC and be an actress. But…she’s found stabbed to death. Who did it? Why?

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara

 I always forget that not everyone is obsessed with true crime like me, but even if you aren’t, this is an excellent book about the Golden State Killer (who was just caught!) It’s pretty scary so don’t read it before bed unless you’re like me and that doesn’t bother you one bit!

Lies That Bind Us by Andrew Hart

 Meh. I skimmed through a lot of this book just to finish it to see how it turned out but it wasn’t that great. A woman who is down-on-her-luck decides to reunite with friends in Greece. Shit goes down.

The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy

 This was another fun, fluffy, beach read. A group of new moms, known as the May Mothers because they’re all due in May, get together in Central Park to hang out and exchange Mommy tips. When one of the babies from the group is kidnapped, they all pitch in to try and find him. I liked this one; not the best book I’ve ever read but definitely intriguing. The ending was great!

You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott

This was a very different book and I enjoyed it. It all centers on Katie, a gymnastics prodigy with Olympic dreams. The parents’ whole life, and the gymnastics club centers around this Olympic dream. Something tragic happens which sends the whole town into chaos. I liked this one because it was a unique story, although I felt like the ending was kind of cliché.

The Vanishing Year by Kate Moretti

This book felt like a book I’ve read before but it was still very good. Zoe is a wife of a rich man in NYC who has abandoned her previous life for charity dinners and lunches with friends. What no one knows is that Zoe has a very dark past that may be catching up with her. I definitely recommend this one.

Only Child by Rhiannon Navin

 This very topical book centers on Zach a six-year-old boy who is now an only child after his brother is killed in a school shooting. Obviously, their family falls apart, secrets are revealed and Zach is lost in his family’s grief. I can’t say I liked it or enjoyed it, but it was well-written.

Down and Dark Road by Linda Castillo

 I know I’ve told you about this other and her books before; if you haven’t read her stuff yet, you should! She writes books set in Ohio and the focus is on murders that have happened within the Amish community. She is an excellent writer and you definitely fall in love with her characters. I suggest reading them in order.

The Lie by C. L. Taylor

This book was kind of ridiculous and over the top. I’m not sure why I kept reading it. I guess it was good enough to keep going but I was disappointed. Jane Hughes has a life where she works at an animal shelter and keeps to herself. She has a secret — years ago she was inadvertently involved with a cult from which she had to escape. Now her past is catching up with her and she is in danger. My main problem was I didn’t like the characters at all; they were very unlikable! The story was ok although it felt like a hundred stories I’ve heard before.

Wolf by Mo Hayder

This was a new author that I wanted to try who writes a series with Inspector Jack Caffery as the continuous character. This series is set in England, which I always enjoy. Wolf is the name of a weapon that Oliver has developed and sold to an arms dealer. However, it also appears to have gotten him and his family in serious trouble. They are taken hostage at their countryside home and tortured for days. You think the plot is going in one direction and then it changes. I did enjoy that. I will admit that I skimmed a lot of the extraneous details because this author includes quite a few of those. You can skim those and not miss out on any of the story. I would definitely recommend this book and will definitely try another in the series.

What have you read lately? My Kindle is filling up fast!!

 

 

 

 

Sweetest Sixteen

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I feel the time slipping away. Two short years until I no longer see you every single day. Two short years until you’re an official adult and making your own decisions. Two short years to impart as much wisdom and knowledge as I can without being annoying. Two short years to soak up all of the wonderful memories we have yet to make.

You are such a wonderful person. I could search the world over and never find a better brother than you for Olivia. You are so loving, patient and sweet with her. She brings out the best in you.

You have made us so proud by taking challenging classes and doing so well while playing soccer, helping around the house and working. You are responsible, mature and smart. I am proud of the friends you have chosen, the activities you participate in and the way you carry yourself. You are funny, witty and fun to be around.

I want to soak up every minute with you but, unfortunately for me, you’re ready for independence. You like hanging out with your friends, playing soccer, working; there’s not a lot of time carved out for hanging out with Mom. I treasure every car ride, every shopping trip, every conversation we have together.

There aren’t adequate words to describe how much I love you. I am so incredibly proud of you and can’t wait to see the man you will become. Happy 16th, Gabe. I couldn’t love you more!

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Seventeen

***This is way, way overdue…she turned 17 on February 20th!***

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Seventeen is many things.

It’s a smile a mile wide…

Big brown eyes that are almost always full of joy…

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Teenage angst mixed with toddler tantrums…

Hugs and kisses and unstoppable love…

Ice skating and singing in the choir…

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Making a real friend for the very first time…

Wanting to drive just like her brother…

Making hilarious jokes, trying out swear words, wanting independence…

Seventeen is nothing like I imagined, but wonderful all the same…

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My seventeen-year-old miracle is everything to me.

She is light, air, my whole heart.

I couldn’t love you more, Olivia.

Happy, happy 17th.

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The Darkness

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The darkness threatens to overwhelm me. It whispers terrible things in my ear.

You are a terrible mother. Matt doesn’t love you. Your Mom doesn’t like you. The kids wish you weren’t their mom. You annoy your best friend. You’re fat. You’re old. You’re ugly. You’re not a good teacher anymore. You don’t deserve to be happy. Stay here in the darkness with me. Stay in bed. Be quiet, be sad, be in the darkness with me.

Don’t tell anyone because they will laugh at you. They will blow it off. They won’t understand anyway. They will be annoyed that you are not ok yet again. They will worry, they will want to fix it, but there’s nothing they can do. Just stay here with me in the darkness.

Put a smile on your face. Very few will notice that it doesn’t reach your eyes. Go to work, go to the gym, take kids to soccer, make dinner, pretend everything’s ok. No one cares anyway. No one really wants to know how you are.

The darkness threatens to overwhelm me. I’m tired of fighting it. It’s too much, it’s too hard. I feel like there’s a thousand pound weight on my shoulders. I cry. I get angry. I lash out. I say things I don’t mean. I cry some more. I’m all cried out. It feels weird to laugh. I don’t want to see anyone. I just want to be alone.

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Get help. Tell Matt how you’re feeling — all of it. Go to therapy and tell her the truth. See a doctor. You can’t do this alone. You need help and that’s ok. You don’t know what will help or what you need but you can just tell someone…I’m not ok. Ask for a hug. Ask for a walk. Take a day off and do nothing. Rest, write, read, do whatever you feel like to help yourself. The darkness won’t last forever. Listen to P!nk’s I Am Here and know that you are here for a reason. YOU. ARE. HERE. You deserve to be here. You deserve to take up space even if you can’t see it right now.

This is not your fault. This is not happening because you are weak. It’s happening because you’ve been so strong for too long. Reach out your hand. Borrow a smile until yours comes back. You’re worth it. You’re a warrior. YOU. ARE. HERE. You can do this. You will feel better. The darkness will subside. It will. You can.

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Happy This Week

Or I should say happy…lately!

P!nk’s new album Beautiful Trauma. It’s AMAZING. If you’re a fan of her music, you will love it. I don’t think she gets enough credit for just how well she can sing. I can’t wait to see her in concert in March!

Thinx period underwear. I’m serious. If you tend to leak during Aunt Flo’s visit, these are a lifesaver. I can’t imagine using them by themselves, but as a backup, they are great. I no longer have to worry that I will embarrass myself in front of my class of 8th graders. Well, at least not in this way. 😉

My new AirPods. I am really bad at buying things for myself, even things I will use every single day. But I just got so tired of my headphones falling out of my ears and getting in the way while I’m working out. So I splurged. They are amazing!! They stay in, they have a good quality sound with noise canceling and no wires! They are not super loud, so if you like to hurt your eardrums, these probably aren’t for you.

Matt was very cute this Christmas and went on my Pinterest page for ideas for me. He got me a Gilmore Girls keychain which is the cutest thing ever and makes me smile every time I drive. He also got me an aromatherapy diffuser for my classroom which I am obsessed with. Now I need one for home!

My Mom got me new sports bras for Christmas and I finally got to try them out this week. Whoa, did I need them! You know how you don’t realize you need something until you get a new version and then you’re like “yikes, what was holding the girls in before this”? Yeah, that was me this week. They’re Victoria’s Secret bras that zip in the front (The Knockout and The Incredible). I will say this, and you won’t be surprised, but clearly VS makes things for women who are size 2’s with big boobs because I had to let mine all the way out to even get it on!! She got me another style that I couldn’t even get into (the Angel Max)…but it was hilarious trying!!

Speaking of working out, I bought myself some new music this week and it made working out even more enjoyable. Here are some of my faves that I bought: Taylor Swift’s new album (don’t judge, I’m a Swiftie. I get to see her in July!), Humble by Kendrick Lamar, Get Your Freak On by Missy Elliott and Run the World by Beyonce. (P.S. Don’t you think we should just all have Beyonce’s song on repeat right now after the Golden Globes and Oprah’s speech???)

Matt also got me the illustrated Harry Potter books and I am enjoying reading them again with all of the gorgeous illustrations.

My two favorite podcasts (My Favorite Murder and Who? Weekly) just make my day when they are new (or old, really) and I can listen to them on my way to and from work.

Speaking of my favorite podcasts, Karen of MFM liked one of my tweets and I about died of excitement!

Olivia got a karaoke microphone from my Mom for Christmas. We all thought she would love it because she loves to sing. Well, the first couple of weeks she wouldn’t even touch it and freaked out if we even suggested she try it. Last week she finally tried it and LOVES it. She has been using it for hours at a time, cracking herself up. I like to lay on my bed down the hall and just listen to her sing, talk and giggle. She makes sure to ask every night that I charge it so it’s ready to go the next day. (Follow me on Instagram if you want to see videos! elastamom417)

Gabe has been driving with his temps since September! He’s actually a really good driver. I can’t believe he gets his license in March! It’s been fun and frustrating and scary teaching him to drive. He also earned really good grades first semester and has a new girlfriend that I like a lot!

Matthew is just the cutest. That’s all.

I had a wonderful two weeks off of work but it was nice to go back and see my friends and my students this week!

We got a snow day today! My school NEVER gets snow days!!

What made you happy this week?

 

 

So What.

I have a menopause-ish pouch that I’ve never had before on my lower abdomen.

SO WHAT.

I also have an amazing ability to listen to a husband having a bad day, a son who needs to vent, a friend in need, a co-worker in distress or a teenager with problems no one else understands. 

I weigh more now than I ever have before without being pregnant.

SO WHAT.

I can make my family laugh at any given moment and join right in. 

I have cellulite and dimples and have to buy wide-calf boots.

SO WHAT.

I am a wonderful, thoughtful, fun, loving friend. 

My arms are bigger than I would like them to be even though I lift weights.

SO WHAT.

I am stronger than most women, and some men, I know. Mentally and physically. 

I have the metabolism of a post-menopausal woman who doesn’t move much.

SO WHAT.

I work out almost every day, listening to music I love, moving because it makes me feel good, healthy and strong.

I have laugh lines and crow’s feet and the beginning of those annoying little lines between my eyebrows and around my mouth.

SO WHAT.

I’ve been successfully raising my three kids, one of whom has significant special needs, with great love for the past 17 years. And killing it most days, I might add. 

I have to go to the back of the rack to find my size of pants and shirts now instead of towards the front like I used to.

SO WHAT.

I have been through my parents’ divorces, a miscarriage, diagnosis of my firstborn with 5p- syndrome and cancer. And managed not to become bitter and still have a smile on my face. 

I don’t feel comfortable in a bikini anymore.

SO WHAT.

I can love and teach 150 14-year-olds each year like nobody’s business. 

I am more than a number on the scale. 

I am more than the size label inside my jeans. 

I am more than wrinkles on my face. 

I am more than my body. 

I am me. My body shape and size doesn’t matter one bit in the grand scheme of who I am and what I offer to the world. I am SO much more than that.

And so are you. I hope you needed this today too and it helped you.

SO FUCKING WHAT, am I right??

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Stop. Start.

I advocated for myself and my health. That was HUGE for me. I’ve been feeling off for a while, even before my cancer diagnosis. But, of course, it took a backseat while I was going through treatment. And after treatment? I felt worse. My depression has been terrible; I know it’s normal after going through something so traumatic, but it was bad even for that. I was exhausted constantly. I had gained weight, which was normal for the type of breast cancer I had, but couldn’t lose an ounce no matter how hard I tried. But because I’m GREAT at faking it, I just kept going. I didn’t have time to worry about myself. I had lessons to plan, kids to take to activities, household duties to perform, and on and on. Until I couldn’t take it anymore.

I found a new endocrinologist. I got new meds. I feel so much better. I haven’t lost much weight, but this might just be my new normal. I am in pseudo-menopause, you know. But you know what’s different this time? I’m beginning to be ok with it. I am not constantly exhausted and my depression is better. I feel…back to normal. It feels so good.

I have said this every year since…1990? I’m going to stop berating myself for not being perfect. But I think this year is my year. I feel like I might be able to silence the demons in my head.

STOP:

Trying to be perfect

Worrying about my looks

Comparing myself to others

Trying to lose weight

Trying to have the perfect body

Wishing I had my old body

Feeling lazy if I’m not constantly busy

Feeling guilty…for everything

Talking negatively to myself constantly

Feeling like I don’t measure up…as a mother, a wife, a friend, a teacher, a daughter, a sister

Putting myself last

Going and going until I feel like I might collapse.

You know what I’m going to do?

I’m going to START:

Practicing gratefulness for everything I have

Saying positive things about myself

Take time just for me

Rest when I’m tired

Eat because I’m hungry, to nourish, to be healthy

Work out because it makes me feel good and not to punish myself

Being proud of myself for everything I am

Remembering that I’m a freaking warrior for everything I’ve been through and all I still have do deal with

Loving the crap out of this life I’m blessed to live.

What are you going to stop this year…and what will you start?

 

Books to Read in 2018

Hi, friends! It’s been so long! Happy New Year! I thought to start off 2018 right, I’d share the books I read during the last half of 2017. Warning: there’s a lot because I haven’t written a book post since May. Oops! I’m going to keep the descriptions short because there are so many. Enjoy and please share what you’re reading!!

Fredrik Backman books: Loved them all! None of them were as good as A Man Called Ove, but they were still really wonderful. Here are the ones I’ve read:

And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer: A Novella This is a short story about a boy and his grandpa. The grandpas has Alzheimer’s and is trying to explain it to his favorite boy.

My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry Told from a little girl’s point of view, she discovers interesting and wonderful things about her grandma, mother and all of the other people who live in their complex. Their lives are intertwined in curious ways. (This was my second favorite after Ove.)

Brit-Marie Was Here Brit-Marie is a central (and annoying) character in the My Grandmother story. In this novel, Brit-Marie has had enough of her dull life and takes a job in a small, forgotten rural town and her life is changed for the better.

Beartown This is all about hockey and the lives of the coach and the players. The star hockey player is accused of rape by the coach’s daughter. Way too much hockey, but the story is very good.

The Wildling Sisters by Eve Chase One of my favorites of 2017. I read it in two days. Each chapter alternates between the original Wildling sisters in the summer of 1959 and the new family that has purchased their house in current times. The sisters are abandoned by their mother that summer and shipped off to their aunt and uncle in the countryside of England. Adventures and mysteries abound. The family in current times is struggling to blend after a new marriage, a new baby and a new house. The two stories come together at the end in excellent fashion.

Pet Sematary by Stephen King I’m slowly working my way through King’s books but MAN is he verbose! His books are so long with a lot of extra prose, in my opinion, and I end up skimming quite a bit. But, his stories are so incredibly creepy and good that I do enjoy them. This made my skin crawl now that I have read it as a parent. Definitely scary!

Pretty Girls Dancing by Kylie Brant This is another one of my favorites from 2017. You know I love a good murder mystery and the creepier, the better. This one was both. It is set in Ohio, which I always enjoy, and there is a serial killer on the loose called the “Ten Mile Killer”. He hasn’t been active in 7 years, but now that a local girl has gone missing, the community is wondering if he’s back. I read it in one day if that tells you how good it is! (I should also mention I’m on break with nothing to do!)

Local Girls by Caroline Zancan This was very mediocre. The only reason I kept reading was that I thought something was going to happen to make it more interesting…but it never did. A teenage girl who is frustrated with her home life joins a cult. It’s very blah.

Whoever Fights Monsters by Robert K. Ressler I heard about this on my favorite podcast, My Favorite Murder, which is a comedy/true crime podcast. Ressler was the man who “invented” the term serial killer and criminal profiling. He walks you through many of the cases he was involved with and describes how he built his profiling career. Super interesting if you are into true crime. Lots of gory details, so be careful if you’re not into that!

My Sweet Audrina by V.C. Andrews Speaking of my favorite podcast, they recommended that we all read this vintage Andrews book “together” and then they would discuss it on the podcast. Well, they flaked out and didn’t read it but I still did. It was AWFUL! I understand how I was drawn to these books as teenager (because I LOVED them back then), but now that I read this as an adult, I realized just how awful these books are. It was fun to read it for the podcast though! If you read it for MFM, or for any reason, you should listen to the Teen Creeps podcast episode about it; they’re hilarious!

All the Little Children by Jo Furniss This was ok. Worth reading, but just ok. I didn’t like the ending because it obviously set it up for a sequel that I just wasn’t buying. A family goes on a camping trip only to discover that they are one of very few people still alive after a plague of some kind kills everyone. They have to fight to survive. Meh.

A Tangled Mercy by Joy-Jordan Lake This was a very good book. Again, it alternates between two time periods: told from a slave’s point of view before the emancipation and told from a young woman’s point of view in current times. Again, the two stories converge in an interesting way. At certain points, it will make you disgusted in how it parallels our current society’s feelings towards race, but it is a worthwhile read.

A Dark Lure by Loreth Anne White This was another favorite from 2017. The main character, Sarah, was the only survivor of a serial killer 12 years ago. She has changed her identity and started a new life. The killer was caught…or was he? It seems as though he’s back and after Sarah once again. Excellent murder mystery!

Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine This was a great read too. A suburban housewife discovers her husband is a serial killer. She flees to a new town and adopts a new identity for her and her two children. But is she ever going to be free of her ex-husband? (Spoiler alert: NO!) It’s a very fast-paced, interesting read but I thought the ending was VERY far-fetched. There are several books in the series so I guess they were setting it up for a sequel but I was disappointed.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng This is definitely a buzz-worthy book that I was anxious to get my hands on. It’s very good, but I was disappointed in the ending. It felt like Ng just decided to be finished and ended it abruptly. This is also set in Ohio. A single  mom and her daughter have just moved to Shaker Heights and rented an apartment from a wealthy family. Their lives converge and secrets emerge and disaster strikes. Again, I really enjoyed it but was bummed at the end.

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green I haven’t read a book until this one that does such an excellent job of describing what it’s like to have a mental illness. Even if you don’t suffer from the same one as the main character, a teenage girl named Aza, you will identify with her descriptions if you have suffered from any mental illness. I loved it. It’s basically how Aza struggles with her illness while trying to fall in love, solve a mystery, have friends and survive high school. I highly recommend this one.

The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter Man, oh man, do I love this author. I eagerly await every new book of hers and this one didn’t disappoint. It’s a stand-alone book (not from her Trent/Sarah series) and is totally different from what she usually writes. It’s still a murder-mystery, but definitely not as gory as her other books. It also explores a family’s relationships in-depth and focuses on the two sisters specifically, which was a departure from her usual tales. I loved it, of course, and hope she writes more with these characters. Two sisters are threatened at gunpoint, one escapes and one doesn’t. The story picks up years later when the sisters are forced to see each other and interact once again.

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly I love a WWII-era story and this one, based on a real-life person, doesn’t disappoint. It is told from the point of view of three women: a socialite in New York, a doctor working for the Nazis and a teenager working for the underground resistance. It is riveting especially if you like books set during this time. I loved how it ends and it made it even more special because it’s based on real people.

Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Maloy This is definitely worth the read. It’s quick and fast-paced. A family is on vacation and sets off for a day trip. The mothers fall asleep on the beach and the kids disappear. Very good and very scary if you’re a parent!

Cross the Line by James Patterson Another typical Alex Cross story (#24 if you can believe it) but very good and worth the read. Pretty much the same story: killer on the loose, Cross’s family in danger. If you’re in the mood for an easy read (what my mom calls mind-candy), this is a good one.

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley This was another podcast recommendation. I didn’t think it was as good as Georgia said it would be, but it was still worth the read.  A family is departing Martha’s Vineyard after a summer stay and a bachelor that has befriended them decides at the last minute to fly home with them. The plane crashes and only the bachelor and a little boy survive. This follows the bachelor, Scott, as the police and the deceased’s families try to figure out what caused the plane crash. It was good, just not great. I was expecting a better ending.

Ok, I think that’s it. I’m sure there are some I’ve forgotten, but I think this is most of them. I won’t wait so long next time!!! Let me know what you enjoyed in 2017.

 

Happy This Week

I always feel like I have to do these on Fridays…but then it doesn’t happen…so I’m throwing caution to the wind and doing it on a Tuesday!!

1.) Depression is no joke, in case you didn’t know. I am AWESOME at faking like I’m ok when I’m not and it’s exhausting. I have been in a serious fog the past few weeks and it has lifted slightly. Yeah! I have therapy tomorrow (thank God!) and I’m going to try and teach myself how to meditate. I also am making an appointment with my doctor to have my meds checked. I’m tired of feeling this way all the time. I’m more tired of faking it.

2.) I still get my nails done every 3 weeks and it makes me extremely happy! You should try doing something little for yourself…it makes a big difference!

3.) NEW TV STARTS THIS WEEK!!!

4.) I was in my pjs and reading my book by 5 p.m. last Friday and asleep by 9. It was amazing. School has been extra stressful and exhausting this year so I really needed it.

5.) Olivia showed up at our bedside early one morning last weekend. She looked at us and said “I’m here…(long pause)…because I pooped.” It was so hilarious and we haven’t stopped saying that to each other all week!

6.) Matthew is in junior high school and has a 4.0! I thought he’d have a hard time transitioning to keeping track of all of his classes but not so much! I’m super happy that he has no missing assignments and is doing so well.

7.) Gabe and I had a 20-minute long conversation the other day that didn’t involve any eye-rolling or discussions of why I’m annoying. It was epic.

8.) Olivia is having a GREAT school year so far. Everything stayed the same, including her awesome teacher, so it’s been a MUCH easier transition for her. Thank GOD.

9.) I’ve been reading a lot of wonderful books…new book post coming soon!

10.) I GET TO GO SEE MY FAVORITE MURDER LIVE ON FRIDAY!!! Not only that but with my friends!! Woohoo!!!

What made you happy lately???